Peter and Camilla Flemming, whose abiding care and love of Willowtown extended over nearly 50 years, received the 2013 Alfred Award. They lived in the brownstone at 51 Joralemon Street from 1966 to their selling it in the spring of '13 and moving to a nearby rental apartment. As stated at the presentation, they took "a chance back in the '60s on what was then a sketchy, rundown block by the waterfront....have confronted threat after threat, issue upon issue, never turning away and working with others to effect change...and even more were focused on doing their part to make Willowtown a welcoming community, a place where people could come to know each other in a way they don’t in most places in the city."
Peter had a general law practice from 1958 until he retired in 1996. Camilla held various positions in the city’s Human Resources Administration, the last before her retirement also in the mid-'90s as director of a program to place teenage mothers back in school. Among Peter’s community endeavors, he has served as president of the board of the A.T. White Center and, since its beginning in 2010, as a member of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council. Camilla is a former treasurer of the Willlowtown Association and co-author of the "Willowtown Walking Tour Guide" updated annually.
For 27 years Noel Collado, a native of Puerto Rico, has given loving care to the Alfred T. White Community Center at 26 Willow Place. Early each weekday morning he is there to see that the premises are in good order for the children accompanied by a parent or nanny who arrive to attend Saint Ann’s Preschool, one of the center’s three core tenants. Each afternoon he is in the front to see them off. During the hours in-between he tends to any of the preschool’s needs or those of the other tenants, the Heights Players and the S.E.M. Ensemble. The structure at 26 Willow Place was built in 1876 as the Willow Place Chapel. The presentation of the 2012 Alfred Award to Noel was part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of its becoming the present center. This welcomed change came about through the efforts of the Willowtown Association.
The 2011 Alfred Award was presented to Pearl Bowser of 71 Joralemon Street in recognition of her unique collection of historical and contemporary films documenting black film history turned over to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., for the collections of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum’s director Lonnie Bunch hailed her “for exhibiting the very best American values–creativity, optimism and ingenuity, just the values our museum is committed to celebrating in the nation’s past, present and future.” She once served as president of the Willowtown Association as did her late husband Leroy, a regional organizer for the Urban League. He died in 1988. After more than 60 years at three houses on Joralemon Street, Pearl moved in May 2012 to a complex for seniors in Battery Park City in Manhattan, The Hallmark.
The first recipients of The Alfred Award in 2010 were Jonathan Marvel of 25 Willow Place and William “Bill” Ringler of 10 Columbia Place.
Jonathan, principal in the Manhattan architectural firm Marvel Architects, took on the major challenge of restoring and renovating a brownstone that for more than four decades stood empty and was falling apart. All of his neighbors responded with relief and deep appreciation. His firm’s projects include the hotel and condo complex at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park for which ground is expected to be broken in the summer of 2013.
As president of the Riverside Tenants Association, Bill has also resolutely tackled a major challenge–the Riverside landlord’s persistence to build a 97-car parking garage in the courtyard. The landlord seems never to give up, despite legal rejections of his plan. And thankfully, nor does Bill backed by many other preservation advocates.